Nigerian Currency Notes and Islamo-Arabic Inscriptions

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When things happen, people would think-thoughts and ask questions. They would also scrutinize issues with the sledgehammer of reason. Nigeria’s historical socio-political evolution, especially after independence, is very enigmatic even to the Nigerian citizens themselves. Nigeria is a multicultural society predominated by three major tribes, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. When things happen, people would think-thoughts and ask questions. They would also scrutinize issues with the sledgehammer of reason. Nigeria’s historical socio-political evolution especially after independence is very enigmatic even to the Nigerian citizens themselves. Nigeria is a multicultural society predominated by three major tribes, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. These three constantly clash over the affairs of the country, as though the numerous other ethnic nations are absolutely non-existence. It is almost as if the gateway to the echelon of politico-economic oasis is a birthright that fate had bequeathed only to the major tribes named above. In every contest between two or more elephants, the grasses bear the pain.

Still yet, even among the three major Nigerian tribes known to dominate every exalted national platform, the battle for dominance and hegemony is as obvious as the daylight. There are these incessant accusations about underground ticklish schemes of one tribe to lord it over the rest and thus control the steering of the socio-political and economic destiny of the entity called Nigeria.

When in the year 1991, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida relocated the federal capital territory from Lagos to Abuja, the majority of the Nigerians cried wolf. These reactions were based on the viewpoint that Nigeria is finally being handed over to the North. But to cast doubt on this vague-conspiracy theory, one might whirl the argument that the rapid population insurgence in Lagos was becoming antithetical to the presupposed serene atmosphere of the government decision-making home. A growing population of the masses without an initiated program of environmental tidiness defies the splendour of a nation’s capital city. Still, with this tabled out by IBB’s administration, a lot of Nigerians felt compelled but not convinced of the Babangida’s seemingly coded intents. Some also held the relocation move was a sudden situational reaction that emerged, especially following the failed coup d’état of Major Gideon Okah in 1990 on IBB.

Again, the last straw that broke the camel’s back was the construction of the National Assembly Complex building in Abuja. That was when some critical Nigerians became even more critical that the Islamic North is really up for something and is using their political sons and daughters for the mission. The hemispherical dome of Aso Rock (National Assembly Complex) is typically built in the fashion of Islamic temples. Looking from the rare, one would assume it is a mosque. But, the fact is this, if Aso Rock is built to resemble anything of Christian religion or other religions heritages around the country, Nigeria would have exploded into a protracted religious war until the building is brought down to rubbles.

Are the rest of Nigerians browbeaten to only look without asking questions? Some Islamic activists had pushed forward the motion for a comprehensive Islamization of the entire nation. And Babangida, a Muslim, was said to have smuggled Nigeria into the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) just one a year after he seized power. This he did on his own “marradonic” administrative accord. That is dictatorial, without seeking the opinions of non-Muslims. This move was controversially received by so many. But as is the case in Nigeria, no one could question and no one could challenge.

The agitation for an Islamic Nigerian nation was put on a golden wreath when Rufai Ahmed Sani Yerima, senator and the former governor of Zamfara state instituted a Sharia law within the federation of Nigeria. This Islamic fanatic was convinced he was called by God to initiate an era of the rule of God’s law, not only within his political domain but all over Nigeria. The international reaction of that time was fiery and repudiative. But that had not conquered the clamour for an absolute Islamic hegemony in the minds of fanatics. So the question is, has there been a secretive conspiracy at least intently in the minds of some Nigerians to propagate and permeate the Islamic revolution within the mainstream of Nigerian life?

Looking at the new Naira notes, I am somehow impressed that some of them no longer contain Islamic inscriptions. This question had always bugged my imagination previously: why should the Nigerian currency notes contains Arabic writings which so many don’t even know what they stand for or don’t even care to ask. Nigeria is a multicultural, multi-religious and multi-linguistic state. Thus, it is best described as a secular state, that lots of bigoted religious folks heat to hear.

The English language is the official language, which brings a binding unity among the diverse ethnic and religious cultures. Certain historical inferences would lead one to attempt the conclusion that the feudalistic, religious imperialistic and aristocratic oligarchies which characterized the Northern Islamic culture had attempted the absolute domination of not just the other two largest ethnic groups, Igbos and Yorubas, but the entire nation as a whole.

Islam or Arabic is not a national language in the country, why then should our currency notes contain Arabic inscriptions. Who initiated this ideology and when was it initiated. And what was the agenda behind it? The governor of the central bank had done a tremendous job by removing the Islamic inscriptions on some naira notes.

But there is still a lingering case in the new naira notes, which had not been solved. Why should some notes contain the three major languages? Seeing the language of Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba on the surface of our national currency create a sort of unjust negligence of other minor tribal languages within the country. Ever since Nigeria began, these diverse tribal nations had been crying marginalization from the three dominating tribes.

It was Socrates that said: “what is worth doing is worth doing well”. Nigeria is too ethnically diversified to recognize some few languages and reject the others as far as currency note is concerned. English had always been the stated official language, and that alone should be on our currency. Otherwise, there would be unjustness and insensitivity domination of the others.

CSN: 68724-2008-04-40

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